Rookie Returners?July 13th, 2014
Joe understands why Bucs fans are giddy over wide receiver Mike Evans, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and running back Charles Sims.
Not only are they rookie offensive specialists added to upgrade the worst offense in the NFL, but they were all first- and second-day draft picks. Those guys should breathe life into a football team.
Often, however, it is the guys drafted on the third day who not only make or break a draft, but make a team strong (that’s why Joe is so bullish on Will Gholston). This year’s third-day draft pick to keep an eye on is lighting-quick receiver Robert Herron from the football powerhouse of Wyoming.
Speed kills and you cannot teach it; you cannot coach it and Herron has it. When Joe was at the OTA underwear practices, when Herron ran crossing routes, he simply pulled away from defenders.
Buccaneers.com multimedia maven Scott Smith has his eye on Herron, too, but he is looking at Herron through a different prism. Smith believes the Bucs could surprise with two rookies being return men.
Eric Page did a nice job as the Bucs’ return man last year and should definitely be considered one of the favorites to handle those duties again in 2014. However, there’s a whole new coaching staff in town, Page has had the job for just one year and there’s no guarantee that he’ll offer enough as a receiver to make his roster spot more permanent.
I would say that Page is going to be facing some pretty stiff competition (which will only make it better if he holds on to one or both return jobs). Some of that will come from fresh faces like Charles Sims and Robert Herron. Sims seems to be in the mix for the kickoff return job, while Herron is a candidate on punts. There’s a very good chance that both players make the team regardless of their roles in the return game, so Lovie Smith and company can afford to roll the dice on Sims and Herron to see what they can do on special teams.
I can’t imagine predicting right now that either Sims or Herron will be quality NFL return men. I do think, however, that they could show enough in training camp and preseason to get a shot at those jobs. That would be surprising, but not unforeseeable.
Well, if speed means a guy can be a good return man, well then, you won’t find a much better candidate than Herron. (Jeff Demps?) This guy has wheels and it will be obvious when you see him in 12 days when the Bucs open training camp.
Joe thinks Smith made a helluva point: While Page is the incumbent returner, that was under the old regime. However, Joe recently texted a trusted source who works within the walls of One Buc Palace who told Joe the current administration doesn’t care who brought in a player so long as the player can play.